Posted on 05.01.20 #122

Wines for the BBC’s Bill Buckley show

Happy New Year! If you’re listening to my chat with Bill Buckley on BBC Radio Berkshire and you’d like further detail on the wines, here goes:

I’m making my predictions for 2020 and the first one is a relatively easy one: English wine is going to continue to grow in both volume and stature. Although still wines are improving hugely, sparkling is still where it’s at, thanks to the English climate and its the searing acidity it can deliver. Majestic is in on the act, with this excellent own label. Selborne Classic Cuvée Brut (£24.99 at Majestic stores) is a non-vintage mix of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made by one of Hampshire’s finest producers, with delicious crisp apple, creamy citrus and a gentle toastiness.

My next prediction is riskier, but I feel fairly confident about it. We’re going to get used to wine in a can. It’s a great format for convenience, think planes, trains and music festivals, where glass is too heavy, or banned altogether for safety reasons, and single-use plastic is a real environmental no-no. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable, so the whole can is capable of becoming another one! The wonderful Provence producer Mirabeau has put its faith in the format and Mirabeau Rosé (£3.50 at Waitrose) is perfect for picnics, come summer. Igo Rosé from Navarra in Spain (£5 in select independent wine merchants) demonstrates just how beautiful a can looks, with great design. And California’s giant Gallo group is also in on the act, with its Barefoot range, including this White Zinfandel rosé (£2.50 at Tesco).

It’s January, so many of us are thinking about no or low alcohol options. No alcohol wine is still a work in progress – I’d rather drink a kombucha – but low alcohol wines make a lot of sense. Dr Loosen Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett (£15.99 at Waitrose) is naturally low in alcohol at 9%, without a hint of compromise. Aromatic, gently off dry, with a lovely mineral character, this is actually great value for the quality.

Finally, many people will be experimenting with ‘Veganuary’ and I predict vegan wine will become more important. Traditionally, animal and fish products have been used in the ‘fining’ (clarifying and settling) of wine, but there are alternatives that are vegan-friendly. One great example is Barberani Foresco (£10.50 at the Wine Society) is majority Sangiovese, with a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. With bright fruit and plenty of complexity, this is the perfect pair for a veggie pasta feast!



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